Factory workers boycotted production at a local industrial unit on Tuesday and staged protests against what they called a “violation of labour rights”.
The protesters chanted slogans against the owners and management of Novason Pack, a polypropylene film manufacturing unit in Hattar Industrial Estate.
Police and factory sources said that around 100 employees of the company refused to perform routine duties and gathered outside the factory gate. The protesters criticised the factory administration’s violation of labour rules, noting that the administration forces them to work for 12 hours for Rs8,200 per month, instead of Rs12,000, as according to Rabnawaz, the labourer’s representative, the government had fixed Rs7,000 as minimum wage for eight hours of work.
Speaking to the protesters, he said that under the labour law, a worker engaged in overtime deserved double wages on hourly basis after the scheduled eight hours. He lamented that the factory has over 250 workers, but none of them was getting social security facilities, day offs, EOBI cards, or other labour law entitlements.
Tasawar, a machine supervisor, disclosed that the factory owners were discriminating within the unit and paying some blue-eyed workers in accordance with labour laws, but the majority was deprived. He added that the administration has not issued appointment letters to them, and despite their repeated requests the management did not listen to their demands.
Meanwhile, the factory management told the police that machine supervisor Tasawar was ‘misguiding’ workers for his personal interest because he was recently fired on disciplinary grounds. The factory management claimed that it was following labour laws by giving pick and drop to non-resident workers and subsidised mess and accommodation to resident workers, due to which they were paid Rs8,200 for 12 hours work per month.
The protesters dispersed peacefully before Iftari and vowed to continue their protest till the acceptance of their demands.
Local labour leaders Mian Zahoor of Hazara Labor Federation and Sahara Foundation, a non-governmental organisation working for the rights of labourers, have condemned the violation of labour rights by the factory administration and offered to provide free
legal aid to the protesting workers.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2011.